Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme’s May amnesia never kiss us on the mouth (2020– ) examines how individuals bear witness to experiences of violence, loss, displacement, and forced migration through performance. Since the early 2010s, Abbas and Abou-Rahme have collected online recordings of everyday people singing and dancing in communal spaces in Iraq, Palestine, and Syria. This work brings these recordings together with new performances conceived by the artists, a dancer, and a group of musicians in the cultural underground in Ramallah, Palestine. According to Abbas and Abou-Rahme, through the circulation of this footage, “these fractured communities are resisting their own erasure and laying claim to space, self, and collectivity once more.”
This evolving project, co-commissioned by Dia Art Foundation and The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, will be presented as both an online project and physical exhibition. The online platform will launch as part of Dia’s Artist Web Projects series. A subsequent exhibition will be presented at MoMA’s Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis Studio. Part two of May amnesia never kiss us on the mouth launches online in February 2022.
Postscript: after everything is extracted
On December 10, the online project opens with a reflection on the act of mourning titled Postscript: after everything is extracted. Soon after the COVID-19 pandemic shut down much of the world, the artists gave focus to a piece of writing that they had begun before the lockdown, which speaks to a constant state of grief and pain experienced across virtual and physical spaces. This text will be layered with digital portraits and a new sound piece created by the artists in Palestine. The digital platform will expand in summer 2021 to include the extensive collection of found online recordings the artists have archived over the last decade alongside the original recordings.
May amnesia never kiss us on the mouth is co-commissioned by The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and Dia Art Foundation, New York.
May amnesia never kiss us on the mouth is made possible by support from the Khalid Shoman Foundation-Darat al Funun and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme
Basel Abbas was born in Nicosia, Cyprus, in 1983. Ruanne Abou-Rahme was born in Boston in 1983. Abbas and Abou-Rahme live and work in New York City and Ramallah.